How to Make Thai Green Curry Paste with Mortar and Pestle

Ice Cube knows how to make a great Thai Green Curry Paste.

His gangsta hip-hop soundtrack is playing in my head and giving me just the right amount of motivation I need to keep at it with my mortar and pestle until I get it right. 

Girl making Thai green curry paste in stone mortar, authentic thai, homemade thai green curry paste, authentic thai green curry paste, khrok sak, Thai mortar and pestle,

"You can do it, put your back into it," he yells to me Boot-Camp-Instructor style.

"I can do it, put my elbow into it," I pant feverishly.

"Don't stop, get it, get it." Ok, Ice Cube, whatever you say.

I'm gon'do it, do it, do it, do it.. But really...when can we take a break?

I'm in Bangkok at the Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy taking a Thai cooking class. Amongst other things, we're learning to make an authentic Thai Green Curry paste with a traditional stone mortar and pestle, that seems to be growing heavier with every stroke.

Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy,  Students making Thai Green curry paste, using khrok sak, thai mortar and pestle
Grinding Thai Green Curry Paste with mortars and pestles at the Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy

Yup! You put your back into it. You put your elbow into it (and other parts of your body too if you need to) and then do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself around if you want to.

Sweat will fly, muscles will be built, tears will fall (if you rub your eyes after cutting the chilies), fingers will be jammed (if you're not careful) and appetites will be worked up.

It's quite a feat really. And a very noisy one at that. Imagine a class full of students banging out their pastes in unison in their stone mortars? 

Warning: Hearing loss may occur.

Ingredients for Thai Green Curry Paste

To make an authentic Thai Green Curry Paste, you will need authentic Thai ingredients like lemon grass, coriander root, kaffir lime, galangal and shrimp paste. These are probably not available in your traditional western grocery stores, so you'll need to head out to an Asian market to find them.

Below is a photo of all the ingredients laid out. This will make enough Green Curry Paste to make a medium spicy Green Curry dish sufficient for 2 people.

See how little galangal and kaffir lime rind is actually required. 

Ingredients for home made, authentic Thai green curry paste
Ingredients required to make Thai Green Curry Paste adequate for a Green Curry for 2 people.

Tips and Substitutes:

  • Use more green chilis for a spicier dish. This recipe make a medium-spicy curry paste.
  • If you can't find coriander root, substitute with 2-3 coriander stems instead.
  • What can you use instead of galangal? Regular ginger is fine.
  • What can you used instead of kaffir lime skin? Regular lime skin is about as close a substitute as you can get.
  • What can you substitute lemon grass with? Bad news. Lemon grass is required for this recipe. But if you have a tough time getting your hands on fresh lemon grass, you can consider ordering lemongrass paste online instead. 

If you'd like to read about my full cooking experience at Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy plus learn how to make a great Tom Yum soup, click here.

If not, scroll down for the recipe and video on How to Make Thai Green Curry Paste.

Video- How to Make Thai Green Curry Paste

Click on the link below to watch Chef Dao's video from Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy -


Thai Green Curry Paste Recipe


☐ 1 tsp White peppercorns
☐ 1 tsp Cumin seeds
☐ 1 tsp Coriander seeds
☐ 1 Stalk Lemongrass
☐ 2 Green spur chilis, seeds removed and chopped
☐ 1 Green bird’s eye chili, chopped (adds spiciness)
☐ 1 tbsp Galanga ginger, finely chopped
☐ 2 tbsp Shallots, finely chopped
☐ 1/2 tsp Kaffir lime rind (skin), finely chopped
☐ 1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
☐ 1 tbsp Coriander root, finely chopped
☐ 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
☐ 1 tsp Salt
☐ 1/2 tsp Shrimp paste

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Step 1: Roast Seeds

  • Roast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and white peppercorn seeds in dry wok until brown. Set aside to cool.

Step 2: Finely Chop 

  • Finely chop the lemongrass, galangal, shallot, garlic, coriander root, green chilies and kaffir lime rind. The finer everything is chopped, the quicker and more finely you will be able to grind it into a fine paste.

Step 3: Pound in Mortar

  • Place roasted seeds in a mortar and pound until powdered. Cover mouth of mortar with non-pounding hand to prevent the spices from flying out of the mortar when pounding.
  • Add green spur chilis, green bird’s eye chili, and salt into mortar and pound with the powdered seeds until a fine paste.
  • Add galangal and lemongrass and smash to a fine paste.
  • Add coriander root, kaffir skin (peel) and continue to smash to a paste.
  • Add garlic and shallots and smash to a fine paste.
  • Add turmeric powder and mix well.
  • Add shrimp paste and mix well. Finished and ready for use.

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